Friday, January 17, 2014

CCXXVI - Proverbs 24-27 - More “Sayings of the Wise”

We concluded the “Thirty Sayings to the Wise” in the last post.  This post will cover some additional “Sayings to the Wise”, beginning in Chapter 24:23, which is the transitional verse using the word “also”.  Actually, this refers to the remaining verses in chapter 24.  We’ll talk about chapter 25 and following in a moment.

Think on verses 23-25.  When we allow the guilty to go unpunished, we have perverted justice.  It happens all the time.  We pervert justice in the name of mercy.  Showing mercy always sounds like the Godly thing to do, and by it we can rationalize many short-sighted decisions.  But these verses offer a stern word of caution about this.  By allowing the guilty to go unpunished, we are placing him in the same status as the innocent.  By the same token (and this is where it gets sticky) we are placing the innocent in the same status with the guilty.  Think on that.  The Scripture goes so far to suggest here that even other nations will scoff at one who allows the guilty to go free and imprisons the innocent.  A successful society (nation) must have a justice system that works, without compromise or prejudices.
Verse 27 is good, practical advice.  Simply, do the most important work first.  {It’s of no value to have a nice house if the crops have not been planted.  You will simply starve in a nice house.  It is never difficult to discern which task is most important.}
Verse 29 is emphatic in telling us not to take revenge on our neighbors. God has reserved vengeance for Himself, and He shares that authority with no one.  The remainder of this chapter deals with laziness.

Chapter 25 introduces a new set of proverbs.  It says in the first verse that Hezekiah’s men compiled some additional proverbs from Solomon.  {I’m sure Hezekiah himself gave this directive.  In our study of Hezekiah we found him to be a good king, seeking God’s direction.  Although Hezekiah lived about 250 years after Solomon, he probably wanted to pattern his reign after that of Solomon.}  You’ll find these proverbs to be a bit lengthier and less “choppy” than the aphorisms we read in chapters 10 – 22.  Many are grouped in pairs.  I shall go through the next few chapters, commenting on various subjects as addressed in this section of this wonderful book.  In verse 4 it mentions removing the dross from silver (dross is the impurities) and explains itself in the following verse.  We cannot produce anything good until we remove the wicked and rotten.  It’s talking about people.
Verse 5 was speaking of the king’s court, justice being the main focus. 
I’ve used verses 6 and 7 many times.  Picture a large group of people being invited to a banquet in the presence of the king.  These verses are telling you not to seat yourself in the front.  This is a large risk.  It would be humiliating if you were then asked to take a seat in the back.  On the other hand, if you voluntarily take a seat in the back, and you were brought forward, it will bring you indescribable honor.  This thinking can be applied in so many of life’s situations.
Verses 17 can be paraphrased by the ever-familiar “Don’t wear out your welcome”.
Another ever-familiar paraphrase can be applied to verses 21 and 22:  “Kill him with kindness”.  Works every time.
25:24, 27:15 and others speak of the unpleasantness of living with a loud or quarrelsome wife.  This chapter’s final verses speak of self-control, when eating and otherwise.

Chapter 26 continues with the collection for Hezekiah.  The first 16 verses warn us about dealing at all with a fool.  We are not to argue with him or try to reason with him.  In fact we are not to waste any of our time with him, as it would prove itself a total waste of time and effort, to be better spent elsewhere.
Look at verse 17.  It says simply to mind your own business.  Don’t involve yourself in someone else’s quarrel.  {Sufficient are your own problems to keep you busy.}
Verses 18 and 19 describe a person some of us know all too well.  This is a person who causes trouble with his words, and when people expose his words as causing unnecessary trouble, he says “I was just kidding.  Can’t you take a joke”?  I can vividly remember one person in particular that I knew when I was a child.  He did this all the time.
The remainder of this chapter speaks of the deceitfulness of charming speech and gossip.

I like the way chapter 27 starts out.  Never boast about tomorrow.  You cannot be sure anything in the future except God Himself.
Verses 9 and 10 speak of friends and how much value we can put on them.  A friend is a precious thing.  A synonym for precious is “priceless”.  Friends are to be considered this way.  A true friend is a rare commodity these days.  Verse 10 even says to value a friend of your family.  This is to be done to further secure one’s friendship, as it should be extended to all family members.
Verse 19 is a good verse to commit to memory.  “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”  People (especially your children) are watching everything you do.  No matter what you tell people about yourself and your convictions, your life will tell the true story of your heart.  {Isn’t the Bible wonderful?}
Verses 20 and 21 tell us that no matter how much time and effort you might put into trying to teach a foolish person, he will still be a fool, doing and saying foolish things.
The last five verses tell us simply to work hard.  Pay attention to your flocks (your responsibilities).  Work diligently and you will provide for your family, your servants, and yourself.

We should finish the Book of Proverbs in the next post, beginning in chapter 28.

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